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PNNL Researchers Work to Detect Secret Nuclear Explosions

Results and data obtained through Xenon International will be used as the next generation of treaty monitoring instrumentation. Credit: PNNL

Researchers are honing their ability to distinguish between indicators of nuclear explosions and the emissions from industrial uses of nuclear materials, such as producing medical isotopes or generating electricity.

The PNNL Source Term Analysis of Xenon (STAX) project sits in an emissions stack and takes measurements at the point where radioxenon is being produced. These measurements allow scientists to calculate and account for background signals at detection stations, preventing them from being misinterpreted when monitoring for nuclear explosions.

Units have been deployed in Australia and Belgium, and more are in production. The near real-time data they collect go to a central repository so researchers can determine how best to incorporate the information into detection processes.

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